Sittingbourne rallied hard, and they rallied well, but it was all a bit too late as Hythe Town held on for the win they desperately wanted in their challenge for a play-off place.
The fact that goalkeeper Simon Overland was by far Sittingbourne’s best player tells its own story, as not only was he their best but he was also their busiest much of the time.
Hythe dominated a lot of the game in their bid for revenge for a 4-0 defeat at Sittingbourne earlier in the season, but when the Brickies got at them in the final stages of the game it was all a different story.
They pulled back a beautifully-taken goal through substitute Jason Ngandu, Hythe had a defender sent off, and suddenly it was all Sittingbourne until time ran out on them.
They made two changes from the team that beat Molesey 2-0 the previous Saturday, Gil Carvalho stepping up for his full debut on one wing, and new signing Kane Phillip, from Herne Bay, making his first start on the other wing. Connor Wilkins and Hicham Akhazzan dropped down to substitute.
Sittingbourne started shakily with Hythe looking by far the more decisive and powerful side.
They missed a great chance early on, then Overland made a good save, but Hythe forced home their advantage from an 18th minute corner, which Sittingbourne manager Nick Davis will have hated to see being conceded.
A simple corner beyond the far post was headed back across goal by unmarked skipper Cloke for May to touch over the line.
Overland made a couple of excellent saves as Hythe kept up the pressure while at the other end Sittingbourne captain Jono Richardson couldn’t quite climb high enough to get proper contact on a headed chance.
All in all it was a disappointing half for Sittingbourne, and the second would have started even worse had Wilson not missed a great chance from close range.
Carvalho screwed his shot just wide when Sittingbourne did get forward, but Hythe’s Adams hit the bar after 58 minutes and they made it 2-0 a couple of minutes later.
Again it was a horrible goal to concede with Johnson scuffing in a low cross from the left which drifted right across the six-yard box before Grant tucked in from close range.
Overland made a great save to keep it at two, and suddenly Sittingbourne began to not only get back in the game but then get on top.
A sweeping move starting on the right and finishing on the left with a cross by Akhazzan was cleverly volleyed in with his left foot by Ngandu, just two minutes after coming on as substitute.
Hythe were rattled as Sittingbourne at last put them under pressure and began running at them, and when Ngandu was fouled as he challenged for the ball just outside the area, central defender Cook was sent off for his second yellow card.
Sittingbourne finished with a flurry of corners but nothing to show for them, and the last action of the game featured another excellent save by Overland in a rare Hythe attack.
A disappointing result for Sittingbourne after they’d previously found how to beat Hythe by going at them with pace and passion, and the defeat puts them back in the bottom half of Ryman South with nine games left now to force a top-half finish.
Ken Medwyn's Photographs
19 mins Jay May
61 mins Dean Grant
78 mins Jason Ngandu
Referee: Gerry Heron
Assistants: Alexis Stacchini, David Lunani
Jack Steventon (Yellow)
Jono Richardson (C)
Kane Phillip (Jason Ngandu 78 mins)
Josh Wisson (Connor Wilkins 65 mins)
Gill Carvelho (Yellow) (Hicham Akhazzan 59 mins)
Substitutes not used: Tom Brunt, Bradley Schafer
Craig Cloke (C) (Yellow)
Matt Newman (Kieron Campbell 75 mins)
Dave Cook (Red)
Dean Grant (Frankie Sawyer 65 mins)
Substitutes not used: Kenny Pogue, Owen Price, Callum Wraight
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